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Primitive Culture: A Star Trek History and Culture Podcast

Jul 18, 2018

Religion in Star Trek.

“Nothing more than a substitute brain” was the characteristically dismissive phrase Gene Roddenberry once used to describe religion. This perspective found its way on screen in various episodes of The Original Series and The Next Generation that presented religious practice as misguided, primitive, or worse. It wasn’t until after Roddenberry’s death in 1991 that Star Trek began engaging with religion—frequently rebranded as faith—in more positive ways. Deep Space Nine, in particular, took religious belief seriously from the get-go, offering not only two series regulars who were viewed as religions figures, but a serialized narrative that demanded viewers consider spiritual questions and themes.

In this episode of Primitive Culture, recording live at the Church of St. Michael East Wickham in London, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Reverend Peter Organ for a look at Star Trek’s changing stance on religious belief and practice. They consider the shift, from the mid-90s onwards, away from Roddenberry’s implacable atheism, and also look at how key elements of Christian scripture have, in fact, been incorporated into the show’s storylines ever since the 1960s. They also look at how their own beliefs about religion—as an atheist and a man of the cloth respectively—have impacted their viewing of Star Trek.

Intro (00:00:00)
Roddenberry’s Atheism (00:06:35)
Having Your Cake and Eating It … on DS9 (00:15:00)
Ways to Eden (00:22:40)
Gods (00:27:40)
Devils (00:38:55)
Reluctant Messiahs (00:49:12)
Sacrifice (00:58:35)
Faith of the Heart (01:05:15)
Final Thoughts (01:09:43)

Duncan Barrett

Peter Organ

Clara Cook (Editor) Duncan Barrett (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Tony Black (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)